Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 20, 2013 7:00am-7:30am EST

7:00 am
the death sentence in certain parts of nigeria. christians also earn a death sentence in certain parts of nigeria. and, of course, some christians respond in kind and do so in reprisal. by the level of intolerance based on ignorance has reached such a bit that your papers, anytime today, in nigeria find that the church has been burned down, worshipers machine-gunned. a mosque has just been burned down. worshipers armed out of existence. because, you see, there are different grades of purity. once i consider the other side not sufficiently pure. and, therefore, deserving.
7:01 am
your institution, however, is not complicated. as it is, in fact, there's never one single issue that leads to total the capitalization of society. >> you can watch this and other programs on line at >> up next on booktv from miami book fair international which took place this past november, reyna grande discusses her book, "the distance between us: a memoir." she shares her experiences growing up in mexico without her parents who immigrated to the united states legally -- illegally to find work. this is about half an hour. now >> joining us now is reyna grande who was the author of a memoir, "the distance between us" is what it's called. what is reyna grande, where did you grow up? >> where did i grow up. up, i was born in a small city in
7:02 am
mexico.'s three nobody has really heard of it. it's about three hours away from acapulco. dri it's in land and if you're driving from mexico city to acapulco, you have to pass by it >>ent how big isn't? >> it was very small when i was growing up. pe there it has about over 100,000 people there but i grew up in they. outskirts of the city. so to me it felt more like auray small town. rt it was very rural. you know, there were dirt roads, no running water. tha the city was very unstable. so that's where i grew up, in the the outskirts very, very close to the mountains. which are very, very beautiful, and, you know, very meaningful to me because when my parents came to the u.s., and the u.s., to us, we called it the other side, and as a child, i always thought that it was the other side of the mountains so i thought that that's where the
7:03 am
u.s. was, on the other side of those mountains. >> host: when did you come to the u.s. and why? >> guest: i came to the u.s. when i was nine and a half years old. this was back in 1985, and the reason why i came was because my parents were already here. my father left when i was 2. my mother came here when i was four and a half, and my father came back to mexico, and he saw that we were not taken care of by the relatives we were left with, and he decided to bring us here because he had changed his mind about coming back to mexico, and he decided we should join him here in the u.s.. >> host: how did you get to the other side? >> guest: i had to run a lot. we had to cross the border illegally, through -- back then, there was no wall, and that's what we did our crossing, and the first two times, we were caught by border patrol. my father, he was hesitant to
7:04 am
bring me at first because i was nine and a half at the time, and he thought i was too too littler the journey. we were caught the first two times, and i felt guilty because i thought it was my fault. my father was right in that i was small, got tired, hungry, and he carried me on his back for a big part of the journey so then the third time, he told us that was it. that was the last time, and if we didn't make it, he was going to send us back to the relatives in mexico, and the third time was different because we trieded it at night, and it was very scary to be in the middle of nowhere, pitch black, couldn't see where we were going, we kept, you know, falling, tripping op rocks, and then there came a point when the helicopter came by with a search light, and i was very afraid of being seen and being caught and ultimately being sent back to mexico, but also being sent away
7:05 am
from my father and from my chance of having a family. >> host: you got into the u.s., got to the other side, where did you get to? where did you live? how did you grow up in the u.s.? >> guest: well, my father lived in los angeles, and he had been there for, you know, for a few years. he had gotten a job as a maintenance worker, and we came to live with him and my stepmother, and it was -- los angeles, there's a small community called highland park, which is in northeast l.a., and it it's predominantly latino, but there was a lot of culture shock in the sense even though a lot of the kids in the class looked like me, latino, black hair, brown eyes, brown skin, last names that i was familiar with, but they all spoke english, a language i couldn't speak, and that's when i realized, you
7:06 am
know, sometimes there is a difference between being a child of an imgrant and being a child immigrant, and that's what i was. i was a child immigrant who didn't speak a word of english when she came to the u.s.. >> host: 202 is the area code if you want to talk with the author about her memoir, accident the distance between us," and 585 in the central in the eastern time zones. reyna grande, what is and was your father like when you were growing up? >> guest: well, i don't know what my father was like in mexico because he left when i was two years old, and when i saw him next, i was going on ten so i'm not quite sure, like, what kind of man he was in mexico, what kind of father he was in mexico, but i know that when i came to the u.s.,
7:07 am
obviously, you know, being an immigrant, his experience in the u.s. had changed him. also, the separation, i think, had affected his parenting skills so what happened was when i was in mexico, my siblings and i would romancetize the idea of the father. we thought our father would be our hero to come and rescue us from the poverty in which we lived, and he did. you know, he was our hero, he did come back, but when we came to live with him, we soon realized we had romanceized him in ways, and he was not the father we thought he was going to be, and my father, when we came to live with him, he was battling alcoholism, very severe alcoholism, which just got worse through the years. he also had a very violent
7:08 am
temper so my siblings and i grew up with a lot of physical abuse, but also a lot of emotional abuse, i think, but at the same time, you know, that my father was struggling with those thing, he was also a really wonderful role model. my father was a strong man. he had a lot of dreams. he was hard working, and he taught us to value education. he taught us that here in this country we wouldn't go far if we didn't have an education so he taught me to dream a lot of dreams that i don't know if i would have dreamed op my own. i'm grateful to my father for, you know, encouraging me to dream big, and he would always say, you know, just because we're undocumented tennessee doesn't mean that we cannot dream. >> host: so what's your relationship with your mother? what was your relationship? >> well, my mother, she was, you know, very good mother up until
7:09 am
the point when she took off to come here to the u.s.. when she came here here, her experienced changed her a lot. she did not have a good experience in the u.s.. my father left her for another woman, and when she came back to mexico, she was very bitter and broken hearted about the whole experience, and she changed, too, as a mother. she was no longer interested in being our mother. she was more interested in finding someone to heal her broken heart. i lost my mother when she came here because the woman who came back to me was not the same one. when we lived here with my dad, my mother came back to the u.s., lived a half hour away from us, but i rarely saw her. i was probably see her maybe once a month, maybe twice, but there was a huge distance between us that we were not really able to recover, and it
7:10 am
has been, i think, timely, the past few years, we made the effort to reconnect. i'm a mother now myself. i understand my mother now in ways i couldn't when i was younger, and i think that for me, because my father has passed on, i want a good relationship with my mother. she's the only parent i have left. writing this memoir gave me the opportunity to look at both of my parents through different angles to see them as human beings, you know, who make mistakes along the way, but also make good decisions, and i want to have a have a good relationship with her. >> host: did you feel illegal, undocumented growing up in the u.s. after you were nine years old? >> guest: well, i think because i was young enough, i
7:11 am
was naive in terms of the situation. i didn't really understand it's full complexity, you know? i came here at a young age, but i felt different many times because, first, i had a language barrier that i had to overcome, and then as i grew up, i realized my experiences were different from a lot of people you know, coming from another country, living through poverty, the abandonment issue with my parents, changed me, and made me feel different from other people, and it was something i struggled with, and my father, you know, when we went to school rather than having a good day at school, he said you better not tell anyone how you got to the country or you can kiss it good-bye. it was a fear of going to school and being freeway of saying anything because i might say
7:12 am
something that might give us away so i would go to school with fear and very unwilling to participate in my class or have a lot of conversations with people because i always thought, well, what if i say something that might lead them to my home, and have, you know and them take us away, and so i did have a fear growing up of being deported. >> host: your book is compared to frank mccourt's angela's ashes. was this is tough memoir to write especially with family members still living? >> guest: yes, it was very tough. what made it tough, too, was that when i was writing about my father, the second half of the book about my father, he was diagnosed with liver cancer, and there came a point when i felt i couldn't write it anymore or that i shouldn't write the
7:13 am
memoir because it was very personal. it was a lot about my dad and about his darkest moments, and my father, because he was dying, this is really slow painful death, i just felt that time i couldn't write the book, but my father passed around the time i was finishing it, and when he died, it allowed me to come to terms with a lot of things and put away all of the negative stuff that i still carried inside me, let that die with him, and i just wanted to keep all the happy stuff, all the great stuff that my father gave me, and i think in the book, i managed to convey to the reader, my father was a complex man. he's not a villain in the story, but a human being, this human being, this father who had big
7:14 am
dreams, and unfortunately, he had a lot of issues that he was dealing with as well. >> host: reyna grande the guest, "the distance between us" the book, and tim from california, you're the first caller. hi, tim? >> caller: this is tim johnson in palm desert. reyna when we speak of hispanic politics or hispanic culture in general, of course, the elephant in the living room is the age-old social and economic status that characterized his spannic culture with the legions of those at the bottom and a few landing patrons at the top. how do you see this playing out
7:15 am
in hispanic politics of our day? >> guest: you know, i think that we're living in a point right now here in the country where people with becoming more aware of the latino presence, and the importance steps that latinos are playing right now, especially in politics, you know, the latino vote very important in getting obama re-elected, and now, you know, the event that the republican party, it seems, that they really do need to change their thinking with latinos, and the issue important to us like immigration. i am very excited about, you know, the way the country is looking at latinos and to realize that, you know, we are an important part of the society. we need to work hard to create immigration reform to help those
7:16 am
here to definitely move up, and to become an important power in politics and sectors of the society. very exciting times. >> host: speaking of the 2012 vote and latino vote, did you vote for president obama? are you a citizen today? >> guest: i am a citizen today, yes, aam. >> host: did you support president obama for re-elect? >> guest: i did, i did, i voted for him. >> host: can you tell us why? >> guest: i voted for him because, first of all, di not like the way romney spoke about latinos, about immigrants in general, about what he wanted to do with the immigrant population. i did north support that at all, and i do think that obama is doing things to make changes to benefit imgrants, especially
7:17 am
when i saw, you know, what he did over the summer with the deferred action for childhood arrivals, what i care about with the dreamers. i thought that was a really wonderful step in the right direction. >> host: that was you. >> guest: yeah, it was. definitely, if i had come a few years later, i would have been a dreamer myself. but i saw it a wonderful step in the right direction, but dreamers need something more permanent and childhood action is temporary, and i'm hoping that with his reelection, he'll make changes to immigration reform, and especially something to benefit the dreamers because they really, really need something permanent to build the future op. >> host: what was your path to citizenship? when did you come out from the shadows? >> guest: i came here at a
7:18 am
very lucky time because i came in 1985, and a year later, the reagan, you know, president reagan passed amnesty which allowed 3 million people to be legal residents, and my father and my mother were went fisheries, that's how we got the green card and spend from 1985 to 1990 undocumented, but we got our green card right when i was finishing junior high, 9th grade, and my oldest sister was going to graduate from high school so our undocumented status was something she was worried about because she was about to graduate from high school, and she was looking at her options in terms of college and opportunities, scholarships, that she could not qualify because of the status, and in
7:19 am
june, green cards arrived in the mail, the most wonderful thing that happened. finally, we could breathe, you know, with relief. we could see a lot of the doors open to us, and i could see a brighter future and say, yes, i think i will now be able to go to college, pursue my deems, and that's what i did. as soon as i got the green card, i took it and ran with it. >> host: was it a physical relief, and did the fear leave you in many ways? >> guest: it did, it did, and it really helped our family, too, because it took so much pressure off my dad. you know, we no longer got the warning going to school. he no longer had to say don't tell anybody how you got here, but go to school, relax, and know that we were not going to be deported or separated as a
7:20 am
family so it changed for using a en, also, my father, you know, working as undocumented immigrants, he had limited opportunity with work, and as soon as he got the green card, he pursued, like, his own dreams, and my dad was a maintenance worker, and when he got the green card, he eventually made it to the top of the ladder of his work where he was the manager overseeing the other workers. to him, that was his dream, you know of of getting up there. >> host: john in stillwell, oklahoma, thank you for holing. you're on the air. >> caller: thank you. i have a question about your mother, i'm curious. you said that her personality change, when she went from one environment to another, what environment was the environment she was going to that caused the
7:21 am
permit change? do you think that it was a culture thing from that environment? if so, can you elaborate more on the culture that she had -- that had changed her personality and what you think needs to be done? >> guest: yeah, you know, well, what happened was that when my father came here to the united states, my mother was left with us back in mexico, and she had to suffer, you know, the way a lot of wives suffer when they see their husbands go to another country, and there was a fear of being forgotten, abandoned, him finding another woman while he's gone. this was a fear that my mother had every single day about my father finding himself another woman here in the u.s., and forgetting about us and about her so she had to deal with this every single day, and when my
7:22 am
father sent for her, it was such an amazing moment for her to feel wanted, to feel that her husband actually needed her by his side, and this is why she came because shemented to make sure that she could protect her marriage, that she could save her family and keep it together, and what happened was, you know, after coming here, making the sacrifice, leaving her children behind to follow her husband, she was not able to save her marriage, and my father left her, very cruelly, you know, like, he was very cold-hearted about the whole thing, kicked her out of the apartment, i don't love you, i want to be with the other woman, and my mother came back to mexico because she didn't have another option, and she came back worse off than when she left because she came back from mexico empty-handed, without a husband, and with a new baby in her arms
7:23 am
to take care of so when she came back, she was a mother of four now, and my father stopped sending money. he didn't send money for us in mexico, and she had to become the sole provider in a time when mexico was going through rough times, you any, their economy in the toilet, the national debt crisis had devastated the economy in mexico, and my mother came back to be a single mother of father without my father's support so she changed a lot, and she, you know, she was bitter about the whole experience in the u.s., and she was broken hearted, and i think in many ways, we paid the price for what my father did to her because she was no longer interested in being our mother. you know, she was interested in finding someone else to could protect her, who could take care of herring and who, i guess, repair the damage, you know,
7:24 am
that my father had done. this is what happened to my mother, and i understand that in many ways, and back then, obviously, i didn't because i was the daughter seeing her mother drift from her mother and more each day. >> host: reyna, you mentioned you got the green card and ran with it. where did you go to school? where did you study? >> how did you become an award winning novelist and now in non-fiction? >> guest: when i got the green card, i made a promise to myself i was going to go to school and be somebody in this country, and my father, even before we were undocumented, he told us that that's why e he brought us here so get an education, and he drilled that into our heads, about going to college, all the opportunities college education could provide, and my father, he
7:25 am
only went up to the third grade in mexico, and, to me, i felt that it would be a very, you know, the way to honor his memory and his sacrifices was for me to go to college because he had been unable to do so and so had my mother, only up to the sixth grade, and so a lot of my family that i had left in mexico, and so i really wanted to honor them, you know, and to say i know you couldn't do it, but i'll do it for you, and this was something that drove my very, very much to do well in school so i ended up going to a city college, pass pasadena city college, right after high school, went there for two years, general ed courses, and that's where i met my english teacher, the one who discovered my writing talent who told me to be a writer, and so when i transferred from pasadena
7:26 am
college, went to uc santa cruz to study creative writing, and that's where i began to write high first novel when i was a junior. .. consider the respect that immigration will have been her family. because i think a lot of times they don't think about it that way. they think about the possibilities they will find here. but sometimes, you know, immigrants when you're trying ty save their family sometimes ther end up destroying their families because of that separation is veryer devastating and the famit especially the family that stays behind. they go through so h manye hardships i definitely don't discourage
7:27 am
anyone from immigrating because, unfortunately, immigration is a necessity, it's not a choice. so i'm not, i'm not discouraging anybody. but i would like for them to consider how it's going to impact their family. and then the immigrants that are already here, i would really love for them to think about, you know, the sacrifices that their families have made, um, and can i want them to take advantage of -- and i want them to take advantage of all the opportunities that come their way, not to waste anything, you know in to always be prepared to grab whatever opportunity life brings to them, just grab it with both hands, don't let go. don't let go of your dreams that you brought with you. because the american dream is still very much alive regardless of what anybody says, and i think the important thing is to honor your past, honor your
7:28 am
ancestors. but also, you know, make the best of what you have here and try to live your life as best as you can. >> host: reyna grande, "the distance between us: a >> tell us what you think about our program this weekend. you can tweet is at booktv. comment on her facebook wall or send us an e-mail. booktv, nonfiction books every weekend on c-span2. >> here at the national press club books and authors night we're here with transit, author of "out of the news." you are a former journalist. why? >> why am i a former journalist? because i could not be the mother i wanted to of a small child into the journalism i wanted to do. then i found a really wonderful and fulfilling career as a public-interest lobbyist.
7:29 am
but i always was very emotionally attached to journalism. and this book gave me a chance to connect with people, many of whom left journalism at the top of their games with some of the biggest media outlines in the countries. i was able to explore with them their feelings about the profession. this is really media criticism with a human face. so these are wonderful stories, because the lives of journalists are very exciting. and rich. and their reasons were leaving the profession, and sometime they leave and come back, or sometimes they leave and start their own nonprofit investigative journalism organization, as chuck lewis did, sometimes they leave like david simon, and become an author of the wire. so these are people who have had rich and varied stories, and stories
disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 1/20/2013